tv Newsmakers CSPAN January 17, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
>> the other disconnect is between the officer efficiency reports and the medical and academic report. consequently, people are promoted on what is in writing. they are moved along in their career path and it goes before the promotion board and the like. there is an adult foster is another disconnect. i have surmised a disconnect between intelligence reports, that evidently came in on the one hand. and the superiors of the person in question, on the other.
i will ask questions about those two disconnects. how can they be remedied? can the military do it by themselves, or will they need legislation to require those disconnects to disappear? >> secretary gates was saying we need to fix the problem. how do we fix it? >> well, accurate academic and officer efficiency reports would fix it. you would have to have a close relationship between intelligence reports, on the one hand, and medill your -- and military superiors, on the other. that could be done in formally or formally. it has to be fixed. on the intelligence side, a left-handed did not know what the right hand was doing.
>> rick maze. >> officer efficiency reports are something you have been trying to overhaul for a long time. you have fought for that most of your career. it seems to be an intractable thing. is there something you need to do legislatively to do it? >> so much of it is subjective. they did change the oer's, in the navy they call them fitness reports, they did change them a few years back to make them more accurate and to make sure there was a better profile of all of the people in the platoon or company, brigade, whatever the case might be, across a spectrum, which they only had so many in a certain block. that was a step in the right
direction. so often, the reports do not accurately reflect a person's competency or lack thereof. it is a very subjective thing. >> are officers trying to be too nice to each other? >> i think part of it is a natural tendency to not want to say unpleasant things and move along. on the other hand, i know there are cases -- i have made inquiries -- there are cases where oer's and fitness -- and fitness reports have accurately reflected the minimum standards of performance. >> roxana tiron of "the hill" newspaper.
>> secretary gates mentioned on friday in his press conference that the military as a hard time self-reporting. things like the problem at fort hood. how did you change that kind of attitude? how do you informed whether or not the military can self-report better? >> what do you mean by self- report? are you talking about the oer's? >> the oer's, but also at the staff and peer level. if you noticed that something is going wrong or something is off, how do you change the culture? >> i wish i had an easy answer for you on that. if someone is not performing to standards, or acts different or funny, experience should know about it and try to correct it.
many times, it is correctable by counseling or by visiting with that person, and that person correcting it themselves. it is a matter of being honest with themselves about whether this pour -- person is performing, whether they show up late, are the unpleasant to their co-workers, all of that goes into how someone really performs other duties. if all of those are accurately reported, i think it would be much, much better. however, some people would still be prone not to want to write unpleasant things. if someone fits in that category, whether it be in informal counseling sessions or
on of formal oer's -- on up formal officer efficiency report, they need to accurately report how that person? . >> would you call what happened at fort hood an act of terrorism? >> i think anything like that is an act of terrorism. i certainly do. my definition of terrorism is probably different from other's. i think this is a horrible, horrible thing. it was a terrible act of terrorism. >> you are a strong student of history. one worry about reporting on people acting funny and things you may see that may not be right, is that mccarthyism that hurt the military at one point. we need to make sure there is some legitimacy in the complaints when you have them. >> i am right in the middle of a
book by andrew jackson. if any oer's or written about him by superior officers, he would never have become a general. he would never have become president. there are people that have added a great deal to america's history that have had idiosyncracies. they have not been of a damaging type. maybe from time to time, unpleasant or irascible. >> you're talking about hyman rickover and john mccain? >> john mccain is a friend of mine. i cannot say about him. i met rickover one time. i think it would fit with him, yes. >> the perceive any kind of role for congress to play? do you think it would be too
late by the defense authorization bill to deal with it? do you have any plans to write any legislation on that? >> we will have our hearing wednesday and i hope you come at 10:00 a.m. i am sure all the members of the committee will probe this issue. there may be our requirement at the end of the day to have legislation. we can actually do it by a stand-alone bill. if that is the case, we can include in the defense authorization bill -- which will come out in may or later in the spring -- i do not think we should rush to judgment, because, honestly, i think it is not just the third is -- jurisdiction of those in power in the military, or standards of rules and regulations regarding fitness reports,
oer's, and medical-academic records, to do this themselves. if necessary, we will not hesitate to do it. >> let us turn our attention to afghanistan. do you have faith in president karzai that he will be able to turn sentiment around with troops on the ground there? >> i did not before. he is the president, you can argue about the election all day long. but he is the president. i want to see how the ax and reacts and works with us. getting rid of the unsavory people that have gotten into that government -- i hope he comes across -- there has been an awful lot in the way of trying to get to that country
and non-haven for terrorists. it would help all of athens -- afghans. >> this spring will be the time when congress will debate afghanistan. in principle, president obama is expected to ask for as much as $33 billion more to pay for the surge in afghanistan. i was wondering whether you see it as possible for a lot of the democrats' -- potentially a supplemental, depending on what form the $33 billion would take. do you see any way that this may fail? >> i think a lot depends on how the situation is coming along in afghanistan. i think our military will do well. we have excellent military leadership. general stanley mcchrystal is
first class. his superior davit address is as good as they come. mike mullen is really an outstanding common outstanding leader. the troops that we have, both in afghanistan and here in america , the national guard -- all of them are doing well. i think our military will do well. the question is, how will the afghan government and afghan people relate to all of that? i am hopeful that they will have a positive attitude and positive report later in the year. in answer to your question, how was it performing at the time of the vote? >> the question remains, they said they are not going to vote for supplemental. speaker pelosi has said she is not going to ask them to vote for another supplemental. it believes the vote in the
hands of republicans and a number of democrats that support the military and may want to pass a supplemental. if something happened and anything is added, it may change the report -- the mind of republicans, would you see the potential of a failure or increased debate in congress over this and putting president obama in an awkward position? >> where are we going, where should we go. i do not think we should cross the bridge, as to what legislation is, before we get there. i am hopeful that the situation will continue to improve. goodness knows, we have a fantastic young military folks there. they are truly the outstanding leaders. the training of the afghan's is coming along quite well, turning
them into, bradley, -- gradually, giving them the ability to fight the taliban. i do not want to cross too many bridges. >> there has been another report about the suicide rate among iraq and afghanistan veterans. i know that stress in the force and what happens to military families has been one of the things you have paid attention to it during your entire time in congress. what are we doing wrong that we need to do better? >> the age-all problem -- age- old problem that people who are under emotional stress will say to themselves, i am fine, and did not report it or seek counseling or help.
in truth, that will help very much. it is not just the suicide rate, but families. i have talked with people in the military and doctors. it is the fact that, it is not limited to this. domestic problems, the bourse's -- divorces, all of this happens. it is very important that these young americans who do have stressed or emotional strains do seek professional help. once you get over the stigma and get over, i guess, of fear of going to counseling, i think that will help immensely. i know of some cases first hand.
we just have to make sure they have all the opportunity in the world to seek and receive stable, emotional counseling. >> do we need more people in the military -- we have people who have returned from their fifth combat corporate it is unprecedented. >> i have always pushed for a larger military. we did increase it in the defense authorization bill this last year. you have to really take your hat off to these young folks, particularly those who been over there two, three, four times. they volunteer. people in the mill -- military are volunteer. their families have to endure deployments, separation,
training. i think we should do our best -- the great roman orator once said, gratitude -- it would help tremendously if we, as americans just said thank you to these young folks wherever we see them, on the street, in church, wherever. if we did a bit more of that, let them know that we appreciate what they are doing and that their families, what they're going through -- i think that would help immensely. >> is there anything more tangible we might do? do we need a bigger army? do we need to spend more money to have more health professionals are around? >> i have always pushed for that. based on testimony given in 1995
by ted stroup, calling for additional funds in the army, we have, since that time, over the years, we have made the marines larger and the army larger. let's to see how it works out on the figures that we authorized. >> with the larger numbers in the army and marine corps, and the stress on the budget, do you see it as possible to sustain a larger military? >> that is what america does not do really well. it is the ups and downs of budgeting for our national security. after the cold war, the peace dividend came along.
a good number of professionals, they left the military. noncommissioned officers, officers. then along came the johns that we had in iraq and afghanistan. we wished we had some of those folks back. i was there was some way to keep a substantial non-seesawing military during times of peace. during times of peace, the military can and does train. it sharpens the edges, so that when we are in conflict, they would be all the more ready for it. >> can we ask about don't ask, don't tell? what you think should be done? >> i am not for changing bell law -- changing the law. there will be hearings in the
subcommittee -- the personal subcommittee this year. that is all i can tell you about that. >> why do you not want to change a? >> we are in the midst of two major complex -- conflicts. i think a disruption of the type could very well cause serious problems. wait until the hearings. let us see what the hearings say. that is my personal thoughts. >> are you open to change? when they tried to do it in the clinton administration, you were opposed to doing it then. >> i was involved with the statute that is now written. >> that is an understatement.
>> you mentioned last summer -- you promised there were going to be hearings. you mentioned it would be at subcommittee level. you're not going to hold them yourself? bill be at the subcommittee level? >> i was, once upon a time, german of the personal subcommittee. -- german -- chairman of the personal subcommittee. >> president obama has made it pretty clear that he wants the law repealed. i think speaker pelosi is also on board with that and chairman levin in the senate. they have not expressed a timeline for when it should be done. where do you see yourself-you said you do not want it repealed -- where do you see yourself in the process? would you be opposing it? >> probably so. for the very reason i just said.
>> would you try and convince speaker pelosi not to take it up? >> it is really not my power or place to try and convince anyone else. >> the rules committee makes an order. >> can we talk about the budget and what you think about the size? is it going to be more than $700 billion for the first time in history? >> all we hear is the rumors coming out at the pentagon. we will wait and see what the budget is. i have a feeling it is going to be substantial, because we are involved in serious conflicts. we have people in afghanistan and iraq. we have people in coastal -- kosovo. it was not mentioned as much as it should be, but i am really proud of the young folks who are
being deployed to haiti, for the work they will be doing. it will bring water and relief to a very sad country. the american military base will be there. i am very proud. >> do you have any sense of how long the commitment will be? >> it will change. right now, it is a rescue, 3 --, triage, and in the long- term, there will be reconstruction. if the american engineers could give advice, i am sure they will. >> you issued a statement on friday saying that a number of red flags were ignored. what is it about the culture in the the military that allowed these things to go unchecked?
>> it is the coulter of not wanting to say unkind things. oer's or fitness reports -- so many of them say that the officer is outstanding. i think that is in so many of them. there are magic words that convinced the promotion board that this person really is outstanding. for instance, this is the top officer i have. that is out of 50 officers at work for me. phraseology and words like that -- this really is a very outstanding young officer, consequently, he will be promoted.
it is ordinary pac-on-the-back complement. -- compliments. >> is it because we have a shortage in the medical field? >> i have raised the same question and received no answer, as to whether an academic report was not fully reflected and whether the oer is not fully reflected the. that is the very question i asked. i probably ask that question -- i will ask that question of those testifying on wednesday. >> do you expect -- are you getting a sense of any big changes coming up that you have been informed of? >> i think it will be too good
things. in the short run, how do we handle insurgencies? in the long run, we have to keep our military posture ready for the unforeseen. i've been in progress several years. so much of international relations -- they were just downright unforeseen. during the cold war, post-cold war. i thought we could cut back on the military. my gosh, here comes a couple of real problems where we need to be in the battlefield. i hope that as we look forward began keep a strong military, without the ups and downs in the budget, and the ups and downs in the military.
we deserve a stolid -- solid, steady budgetary process. >> thank you for joining us on "newsmakers." we will have to invite you back. >> think you very much. >> thank you for being with us. we continue the conversation with roxana tiron and rick maze. the hearing will be taking place next week and is one of the first time that congress will have opportunities to question the people who reviewed this. what will come of it? >> it is like the underwear bomber. there will be a series of flags that were flying that people should have paid attention to, but nobody connected the dots and put it together. in the military system, it is hard to deal with. there will be a lot of questions. i do not think there will be a lot of immediate answers on how
to stop this from happening again. there is a medical officer accused they are in. their own world -- medical officer accused. they are in their own world. you do not have to be a superior officer. it is a very difficult thing for them to handle. i do not think congress understand how the military works, well enough to understand what needs to be done. >> in fact, the congressman appeared surprised by your question. >> i got the sense that congress will step back and let the hearings go on and will not get so much involved in writing policy, but try to find the answers first, and let the military solve the problem themselves, at least for now. it does not look like the congress and lawmakers are trying to write legislation or change anything, as far as the pentagon policy is concerned.
>> the fort hood and attended christmas day bomber, two strikes against the u.s. can you compare the two? >> it is a sign that no matter what, there will always be threats. we do not have a way to detect one person. that is what everybody needs to keep in mind. how do you detect a single person who is flying under the reader? -- radar? >> regarding don't ask, don't tell, where is that having? >> it looks like it is not heading anywhere. he is opposed to repealing it. the hearing will be at the subcommittee level, personnel subcommittee. it is going to be a little bit of a disconnect between what of a disconnect between what president obama wants to see and